From the Book of Valentines

by Bliss Carman


 

A NEIGHBOUR'S CREED

"Nor knowest thou what argument
Thy life to thy neighbour's creed has lent."


 

I

 

All day the weary crowds move on 
Through the grey city's stifling heat, 
With anxious air, with jaded mien, 
To strife, to labour, to defeat.

But I possess my soul in calm,

5
Because I know, unvexed by noise,
Somewhere across the city's hum
Your splendid spirit keeps its poise.

 

II

 

Because I see you bright and brave, 
I say to my despondent heart, 
10

"Up, loiterer! Put off this guise 
Of gloom, and play the sturdier part!"

Three things are given man to do: 
To dare, to labour, and to grow. 
Not otherwise from earth we came, 

15

Nor otherwise our way we go.

Three things are given man to be:
Cheerful, undoubting, and humane,
Surviving through the direst fray,
Preserving the untarnished strain.

20


Three things are given man to know:
Beauty and truth and honour. These 
Are the nine virtues of the soul, 
Her mystic powers and ecstasies.

And when I see you bravely tread

25
That difficult and doubtful way,
"Up, waverer; wilt thou forsake
Thy comrade?" to my soul I say.

Then bitterness and sullen fear,
Mistrust and anger, are no more.

30
That quick gay step is in the hall;
That rallying voice is at the door.